Look, I totally understand that Hollywood’s main aim is to satisfy the needs of teenage boys. I get it. That’s why most movies released by studios are hyper-stylised special effects extravaganzas – trying to compete with the latest video games in an attempt to part these thrill seeking youths from their cash. That’s fine, I understand. However, they could throw a bit of originality into the mix and try to offer some story, characterization and even the occasional piece of appealing dialogue for those who are a bit older and who still like a bit of bang for their buck. Remember the time when a “blockbuster” meant that a film could be enjoyable for the entire family and not just one hormone container with one hand on his joypad. Think of the original Star Wars trilogy, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters. Even Independence Day now appears to be from the halcyon days of solid characterization and casting.
Battleship seems to be the latest in a long line of tired movies, which seemingly exist, just to make money, truck loads of it. Battleship’s first sin is that it is based on a board game – not a book, or a television show, or a cartoon. Not even a video game, but… a board game. It’s also a strategy game-one with minimal plot.
Secondly, they’ve shoe-horned in an alien invasion concept that’s not even in the original game (chance would be a fine thing). It’s like taking Cluedo and setting it in outer space, totally pointless. Hasbro, the company behind the game and the film, obviously counted the coin brought in by their Transformers films and realised that giant robots and explosions means serious bank at the box office, and damn the torpedoes (literally) if they weren’t going to cash in on it.
Finally, the casting of the film is lazy. Liam Neeson is now a man who moves from film to film taking his paycheck and cashing it in at the end of the day. Fine, we all have bills to pay, and he’s lucky to have cornered the market in middle-aged action, but he’s also showing a lack of nuance when choosing material. Clash of the Titans (and its sequel) coupled with films like The A-Team and Unknown show that Neeson isn’t too picky when selecting his next script. Not that this is particularly new, as one only needs to watch 1999’s The Haunting to see that this career malaise isn’t a recent phenomenon.
Neeson is the least of the Battleship’s problems, and I’ll even give Taylor Kitsch and Alexander Skarsgård a pass because they’re young actors trying to break into the big leagues from television, and an action tentpole is the easiest way to do this. No, the main offender is the casting of pop star Rihanna. It’s not a new occurrence for singers wanting to act: David Bowie, Madonna and Phil Collins (amongst many others) have all tried out their thespian skills on unsuspecting audiences. However, they at least attempted to act, and no matter how bad they were, or how poor the films were, they showed that they wanted to be taken with a modicum of respect. They didn’t jump onboard a $200 million film, in a blatant attempt to raise their profiles by garnering further column inches and publicity.
I’m sure that Battleship will be very successful, it might even be quite good and all indications appear that it may lead to a sequel or two but one thing is for sure – it won’t be getting my time or money.